ON MAY 24, PAUL GRAY WAS FOUND dead in a hotel room outside Des Moines, Iowa. He was 38. Gray was a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning band Slipknot, which developed a massive following after emerging from the Iowa club scene in the late ’90s. Typically identified by the numbers the mask-wearing musicians wore on their sleeves, Gray was known to most fans as “#2” or “the pig.”
The California-born musician moved as a child to Iowa, where he began playing bass in such local metal bands as Anal Blast, Vexx, Body Put, and Inveigh Catharsi. He co-founded Slipknot in 1995. Gray cited Flea, Les Claypool, and Cliff Burton as early influences, and told BASS PLAYER that it wasn’t long after switching to bass (from guitar) that he began to expand his musical horizons by listening to players like Stu Hamm, Jaco Pastorius, and Victor Wooten.
“I don’t go up there to show off,” the lefthanded Gray told BASS PLAYER in 2005. “I could if I wanted to, but it’s not what our band needs. [Skeptics] look at us and go, ‘The band has sold millions of records and wears masks, so obviously they can’t actually play their instruments.’ But we can actually all play our instruments well. We’re out here playing shows to a lot of kids and having a good time doing it, and that’s really all that matters to me.” Gray is survived by his wife Brenna, who is expecting the couple’s first child.